Saturday, August 18, 2007

Setanta schedulers not inspiring confidence

I have made several remarks over the past week recommending rugby fans subscribe to the new Setanta Sports launched on Canadian cable television a couple weeks ago. Fact is, for a Canadian fan starved for rugby, the network is a godsend. But that doesn't mean they're beyond criticism when it's warranted. Indeed, Setanta has had a number of scheduling clusterf#cks the past couple weeks that simply don't add up. Today was particularly illustrative and particularly frustrating.

For the past couple days Setanta's on-air TV schedule (i.e. "Tomorrow at 2:30 pm," and "Coming up to-day at 2:30 pm," etc.) have displayed regular listings for the Saturday August 18th, 2:30 pm ET International Rugby fixture: England vs. France LIVE from Marseille.

However, at 2:30 pm, viewers were still seeing 10 minutes worth of Newcastle vs. Aston Villa post-match comments and wrap. Ten minutes later was the Scottish SPL report.

At 3 pm, a half-hour after the scheduled start, Setanta then broadcast last weeks' tape-delayed England vs. France rugby test, instead of the LIVE match advertised.

Odder still, Setanta's TV schedule as listed online shows a completely different sport being televised. It lists the 2:30 pm slot as EPL Birmingham vs West Ham. As mentioned, the schedule is bogus, and viewers get the SPL report and last week's taped rugby match instead. I suspect some soccer fans would have been equally as frustrated as myself.

Piling on... Setanta's TV schedule listed online for the same day displays Noon programming as being Coca-Cola Cup Stoke City vs. Charlton. Another mistake. It was instead EPL Newcastle vs. Aston Villa LIVE, exactly as scheduled on Setanta's TV listing.

Does Setanta's right hand know what the left is doing?

It is not exactly inspiring confidence for a new network launch looking to entice new subscribers. I realize this network was shoved through in a hasty rush to meet the start of the EPL season, but it all seems fairly desperate, flimsy and amateur.

What I have learned is that Setanta's online and TV listing schedules are often in conflict, and neither can be believed. And this is not a one-time trip-up. It's been a regular feature of Setanta's schedules all week long.

I am not complaining about Setanta's programming. But I am embarrassed by their pathetic schedule coordination and lack of attention to detail. I am crossing my fingers it's not another bad re-run of Fox Sports World Canada redux, with all sorts of promises made, a great start, and then operators (if there are any) asleep at the switch, with an inevitable crash landing to reality.

Sports are important to me, but not so important that I'm going to waste scheduling my weekend around a regularly mistaken schedule.

Setanta needs to wake up and rectify the farcical, misleading and unprofessional scheduling. I am beginning to feel doubly stupid by publicly recommending this channel to others. Customers who pull their money out of their pocket expect better, and they deserve better. Thank the stars it's still a free preview, or my steel-toed Kodiak would've been right through my TV set.

And yes, I still stand by my earlier prediction that Setanta will become the most popular specialty digital cable channel in Canada. All the more reason for them to get on top of details. *Sigh* Thank God for TCM.


At 8:24 PM , Blogger welshman said...

Couldn't agree more! Here is the e-mail I just sent to Setanta:

While I have generally been very excited about your network's Canadian launch, very irritating glitches continue to occur.

I am a Shaw cable subscriber from Manitoba, Canada. We are currently enjoying a free preview of Setanta, while subscription services will apparently be available on September 8 (all on local channel 154 for this cable provider).

Unfortunately, the program guide provided by Setanta to Shaw - which is so critical for planning and PVR purposes - is wrong at least 50% of the time. There is little more maddening than planning to watch a particular advertised program, only to discover that something completely different is being broadcast (or worse, has been recorded for what was intended to be convenient viewing later).

Quite apart from these general frustrations, today saw another specific disappointment in the form of the heralded "live" international rugby match between France and England. Though the cable program guide was again wrong, both your website ("Canadian Schedule") and the scheduling announcements featured on the actual channel ("now showing", "next", etc.) indicated that the game would be broadcast. Indeed the announced time (2:30 EST) was exactly the correct kick-off time in Marseille, France. At the duly scheduled time, however, to my great exasperation, Setanta instead re-broadcast LAST WEEK'S England v. France game from London.

Please explain these difficulties and provide me with some assurance that efforts are being made to ensure that they don't continue to occur. I fear you are alienating potential customers on a large scale, before they are even secured. This would be a terrible pity.

I look forward to hearing from someone.

At 8:55 AM , Blogger Dave said...

Quick followup to my posting Saturday about Setanta's frustrating schedule problems;

Setanta rep Jessica France writes me:

"Some of the Canadian co's were using the US schedule on their tv guides. You can find an accurate schedule on and choose "Canadian schedule". We are ironing out some of the kinks in our broadcasting, thus the freeview period. By the time the freeview period is over, most everything should be ironed out. Thanks for your patience."

Well, I'm glad they're looking at the problem. But the link to the Setanta website still isn't cause for confidence just yet. There isn't any "Canadian schedule." There is a link to "North America," and that link takes you to the, quote, "Schedule for the Setanta Sports channel available in the US."

The other confusion is that it's not simply the Canadian cable companies using the United States schedule on their TV guides - which is a problem - but moreover the TV schedule listed on their actual channel that we Canadians are viewing AND the TV schedule as listed at the Setanta website.

Bottomline: There is NO Canadian schedule. (And as a business model, I don't know that a customer in the market for a new automobile would be too confident when test-driving a new, say, Volkswagen, and the dealer says, oh, don't worry about the faulty speedometer and the ignition backfiring, it should be all sorted out when you sign the cheque and we deliver a new model.)


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